The Sudanese model Alek Wek appeared on the November 1997 cover of the U.S. edition of Elle magazine, in a photograph by French creative director Gilles Bensimon. It was, as is so often the case in the beauty business, a global production.
Wek, with her velvety ebony skin and mere whisper of an Afro, was posed in front of a stark, white screen. Her simple, white Giorgio Armani blazer almost disappeared into the background. Wek, however, was intensely present.
She was standing at an angle but looking directly into the camera with a pleasant smile spread across her face, which wasn’t so much defined by planes and angles as by sweet, broad, distinctly African curves. Wek represented everything that a traditional cover girl was not.